Lana Del Rey: Reluctant Poster Child for Millennial Feminists

So. In case you’ve been consumed with other news (like the 74th shooting since Newtown), Lana del Ray has been caught—and now lambasted—in the red-hot cross-hairs of feminist criticism. In her recent interview with Fader, she shrugged off the whole fucking albatross, insisting she’d basically prefer to watch Cosmos:

For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept. I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested.

She did go on to clarify her seeming laissez-faire attitude and/or refusal to participate in a dialogue she is already participating in just by being, well, a female, megawatt pop-star:

My idea of a true feminist is a woman who feels free enough to do whatever she wants.

Amy Zimmerman of The Daily Beast was one of many to find Del Rey’s response simply unacceptable:

…[with that response] she became the latest young, female star to artlessly answer a question about her personal relationship to feminism. Her response was inarguably uninspiring, and simply strange coming from an artist whose work is clearly preoccupied with notions of female empowerment, sexuality, and identity. 

But you know what? I thought Del Rey’s response was kind of awesome. Just because you think her videos are subversively “preoccupied” with female issues, doesn’t mean she has to have some heady analysis of her actions at the ready to satiate your curiosity or personal struggle with your gender. By Zimmerman’s argument, every female artist on the planet, from Bjork to Beyonce, should have a feminist “response,” something to “say” about her relationship with the world as seen through the lens of her gender. And I’m not sure it’s their responsibility to wrestle with an agenda they may or may not feel at odds with.

One could more-than-easily argue (watch me go!) that the new wave of feminism is about countering that rather exhausting, self-consciousness existence. Del Rey readily recognizes she’s a woman with a capital W; her music is steeped in sex, relationships, betrayal, fear of ageing and love. But her female-ness isn’t at the very center of her being. In fact, she’s not only busy thinking about other things (like aliens!) but she takes her freedom for granted. She’s simply “doing whatever she wants,” spitting in the face of potential repercussions, criticism and over-analyses of her actions.

In many ways, that’s exactly the model of feminism I ascribe to and am deeply thankful for. How wonderful to not feel that onerous weight of my womanhood with every passing moment or decision. This is not to say I don’t think about other women’s harrowing realities and the (sometimes) seemingly insurmountable gender relations struggles that we’ve still yet to overcome. But I’d be lying if I said my personal life felt hampered by the fact that I was born a woman. I think about a lot of other things a helluva lot more.

Basically, I’m fist-pumping Del Rey’s honesty and refusal to participate in something she doesn’t feel compelled to.

We recently interviewed the founder of Luna Luna magazine—Lisa Marie Basile—and she said that “feminism is a kind of humanism,” and that has stuck with me over the past few weeks. In many ways, this is what Del Rey is all about; exploring the outright malleability and epic struggle of just being a human.

It’s all the same to me. It’s all nothing, it’s all everything. I could really go any way. I’ve lived a lot of different lives. I lived down in Alabama with my boyfriend, I lived here in Brooklyn and in Jersey. I’ve been a lot of different people, I guess. I’m trying to do what feels right. I tried a lot of different ways of life, you know, things I never really talk about, just because they are kind of different. I didn’t really have one fixed way that I could envision myself living. 

Whatever axe she is or isn’t grinding, Lana’s doing something right: Born to Die has sold over 7 million copies worldwide—more than Beyoncé’s last two albums combined. Like it or not, she is helping to define a new wave of feminism for the Millennial generation.

This article first appeared on Ravishly.com, a women’s news+culture site.

 

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